LIVE BLOG: State of the Union

PRE-ADDRESS POST

Welcome and thanks for visiting this site.  President Obama is just about to give his first SOTU address.  I was much happier this time last year than I am presently, but happiness has nothing to do with anything.  I am behind the man and am willing to draw on my remaining short supply of patience in anticipation of real change.  Here are my  comments on some of the major issues..

President Obama has offered up much-needed solutions to many of our problems.  We now need him to translate those words into actual events.  The financial industry must be held accountable to the government.  It is called regulation, which needs to be re-instated immediately.  This is rather difficult though when the government is in the industry’s pockets.  The lack of oversight and accountability has served to alienate and infuriate most Americans.

Ditto goes to our wars on two fronts.  It is a meaningless and fruitless task to help those who refuse to help themselves.  Further, our fixation on “fighting terrorism” can not be won by using the typical, historical methods of warfare.  Waste of time.  We must acknowledge that terrorism is a state of being, not a single event that can be wiped away by retaliation in the form of an endless war.

President Obama’s recent call for cost-cutting is only cosmetic.  I doubt that a freeze on that kind of spending will tip the economic scales one way or the other.  However, my mind is still open and I will comment further during his speech.  I am inclined to believe that these spending cuts are merely a political move, rather than a real fix for our economy.  A symbol, if you will, rather than a solution.

I need not rehash the importance of facing and fixing our high unemployment figures.  To fall back on the excuse, “It takes a strong private sector to create jobs” is an excuse for kowtowing to the usual suspects of special corporate interests.  I am not falling for that one again.  Instead of starting at the top of the triangle and hoping for a trickle-down effect to the middle class, the beginning point has to be at the bottom and middle of the triangle.  We never recuperated from that genius, elitist theory that we used to extract ourselves, i.e. the moneyed class only, from the recession under President Reagan.  Fool me once…….

Additionally, I remain steadfast in that the most important issue that reflects our gridlocked and unresponsive government is health care reform.  Health care reform must not remain a symbol of hope; it must be brought to legislative fruition and in so doing, will be an actual solution.  President Obama and our Congress must make good on delivering a reasonable, even though not complete, program.  I want my President to allow the do-nothing GOP to filibuster.  Big deal: another time delay in getting decent legislation.  Also, I want to see the President and our houses of Congress use their power of the majority.  If need be, reconciliation should be implemented to get some sort of reform enacted.  At this time, faced with understandable anger by the people, every legislative measure possible should be activated to make this reform a done deal.  It appears that Nancy Pelosi is the only one on Capitol Hill with some balls.  Not only is this particular issue the heart of what ails America (How could we be the only industrialized nation on earth that does not provide universal health care for our people?), but also this will be a test to see if the government can move past its own selfishness and inertia to enact policy for the betterment of the people.  Fat chance of that happening.

On the issue of global climate change, each nation is afraid to step up to the plate and institute responsible reforms for the benefit of our entire world.  Instead, they harp on tit-for-tat, lest any one nation lose economic superiority for the sake of our planet.  Would you agree that some guts, role-modeling and long-term concern are called for?

The time has come for action.  Nothing less than a  sea change in our governing practices and business objectives will be required.  Our elected government officials should be subject to the same FICA taxes as is every other American.  Regardless of their term in office, pensions for the rest of their lives should be thrown away.  Their pay raises should be limited to the CPI.  Above all, our mantra that bigger is better should be buried deep in the ground.  Pre-recession, when our economy was supposedly flourishing, any corporate earnings report that was a few pennies short of expectations or even worse, remained the same, caused the underlying stock to tumble.  By deeming anything less than previous earnings a market failure, pressure was applied to business interests, such as the financial industry, to come up with more esoteric and so much more riskier strategies and investments.  Not an excuse for their horrendous penchant for risk, yet a warning nonetheless.  It is unfair for the powers that be to rely and encourage the middle class to buy, buy, buy in order to stimulate the economy, at a time when personal debt is at just as dangerous levels as overpriced mortgages were.  Equally important, the middle class must stop their rampant consumerism just because easy credit is available.

A call for bipartisanship is just another delaying tactic and avoidance of responsibility.  The GOP’s do nothing platform of the last year has worked; why should they change their strategy now?  For the sake of unity, President Obama could give them one last chance.  He could list five issues, i.e. financial reform, health care, wars and national security, unemployment and perhaps immigration, and set a date and a time when the GOP can offer five fixes for each of these problems.  Shall we call this initiative “Five For Five”?  The Republicans’ biggest criticism of the health care bill was its length: “Five For Five” can be dispensed with in two pages.  Are they up to this task?  If they do not respond, it is only an affirmation of their solitary goal of taking down our President.

The poison that is eroding our middle class and our nation as a whole is deeper than we can imagine.  I am not at all sure if any President can stem the tide.  However, if we start with baby steps of corrective action, and fill in the gaps later on, perhaps we can get back on the right track. President Obama must turn his creativity and rhetoric into actual results that benefit the middle class.  And I do not mean pretty, election-saving but empty promises; I mean immediate steps to help make American life more secure.  Let’s see if that is going to happen.  Here we go.  Lights, camera, ACTION!

Some reading  links for your enlightenment on relevant issues:

1.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post on  “The State of the Union Speech Obama Would Give in a More Honest World”:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012603934.html

2.  Andrew Simms on unsustainable growth (two very good articles):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jan/25/uk-growth-energy-resources-boundaries

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8479508.stm

THE LIVE BLOG OF THE SOTU ADDRESS

9:09 P.M.

Manners, puh-lease! Is Joe Wilson in the House?

9:11 P.M.

Look at how color coordinated Biden, with his purple tie, and Pelosi are, with her lavender suit.  I do not want staging; I want substance.

9:14 P.M.

He recognizes the decades-long faltering of the middle class.  He’s got the problem identified.  So what are you going to do, Mr. President?  We the people “share a resilience in the face of adversity”.  What choice do we have?  We should prefer to live a more gentler and kinder life as do our elected officials and corporate CEO’s.  So enough compliments.  What have you got on the table?

9:20 P.M.

Only half of the room stood and applauded Obama’s plan to charge fees to the largest banks in order to repay the taxpayers.  At his mention of the bonuses,  still only half the room was standing.  Therein lies the problem.  How could any politician from any party condone the huge bonuses paid to financial executives with funds borrowed from the taxpayers?

9:25 P.M.

Where will Obama’s new jobs bill originate?  With the already wealthy or within the middle class?  Will we have trickle down or trickle up?  Looks like he wants his starting point for jobs growth to be small businesses, by taking $30 billion from the money the banks have already paid back and use those funds for community lending to small businesses.  Here we go: no more capital gains for small business investment.  Don’t hold your breath.

Green jobs.  Infrastructure investments.  How we so desperately need this.  Not only will such a program provide jobs, but it will also repair our crumbling bridges, roads, water mains, etc.  Another great idea.  This Congress couldn’t unify behind the American people for all of the tea in China.  Obama’s presentation of this jobs bill is admirable.  So were all of his other progressive ideas.  How the hell do we turn these ideas into actions?

9:34 P.M.

Mr. President: economic growth is not always synonymous with a “healthy, strong” economy.  Quality, my friend is worth so much more than quantity.  Please do not fall into that American trap.  We do not necessarily need “more”; we need “different”.

9:36 P.M.

Best point so far: the nation that leads the clean revolution will be the nation that leads the world economy.  No guts, no glory.  Didn’t I say that in my pre-address comments?

9:39 P.M.

No progress.  Only half the room is standing and applauding.  Our Party of No cannot overcome the only issue that unites them: take Obama down.

The President is now addressing education issues… Still only half the room is responding positively.  Shoot.  The Republicans, in all of their elitism, do not think that college educations should be available and accessible to all.  How else can we interpret their apathy to Obama’s comments?

9:44 P.M.

Here comes health care.  I am so pleased that he hasn’t tabled this reform.  If he can get this bill passed, I do believe that future policy changes in areas like climate change, unemployment, and education will have an easier time and a better chance of passing as well.  The health care debate is the oil that will grease all present and future progressive legislation.  Obama must see it through with whatever available but legal procedures necessary.

9:49 P.M.

“Let’s get it done” re: health care.  Finally, the entire room is on its feet.

9:51 P.M.

Have to take a brief break.  Tell me what happens.  Wait:  I like his idea for spending cuts of $1 trillion to cover that exact amount that we had to borrow in response to the recession.  Surely the cuts are modest when compared to our overall debt, but now I understand the rationale behind the specified amount.  There is a certain symmetry there.  But in a perfect world with a perfect government, I would still like to see deeper cuts in such areas as military/war spending, pork barrel issues and especially, the payroll exemptions, ridiculous lifetime pensions and salary increases of our representatives and senators.

9:57 P.M.

Aaaaaahhhh ….. “the deficit of trust”, “the need to close the credibility gap”.  We have finally gotten to the heart of the matter.  In the same vein of reclaiming trust,the denouement of the recent Supreme Court’s decision to allow unfettered campaign giving.  Free speech, my ass.

I like that website idea for all pork barrel requests.  Remember that Bridge to Nowhere?  “Thanks”, but “no thanks”.  Palin’s lie was an attempt at covering up her pork barrel pet project.

I love Obama’s point that every day cannot be Election Day.  Governing must trump individual career goals.  Now I would like to see him lead the way on this issue and fight like the Dickens to get health reform done, with whatever methods are available to him. He must pull out all the stops and LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

10:06 P.M.

Major faux pas.  Obama has just pledged that the Iraq War will be over by August and that “all of our troops will come home”.  Will they?  Or will they be recycled to Afghanistan?  Do not pull the wool over my eyes.  This is not conducive to building trust.

10:10 P.M.

President Obama has given a good speech.  It was much less condescending than I thought it would be.  He stood on his principles yet was brutally honest.  Downright daring.

Oh my!  Hold on to your hats.  He has just promised to do away with DADT (Don’t ask, don’t tell) in our military,one of the most hypocritical policies thriving in America.  How can we be an honest nation with an honest government implementing an honest agenda if we hide behind and bury gender preferences?  Fake, phony and fiction.

10:18 P.M.

Obama is finishing up.  He is speaking about having the dedication and strength to “do what is right”: to invest in the generations, not just in an election.  Please Mr. President, live by your own words.  Your head is screwed on absolutely correctly.  I am with you and I have your back because I know you have mine.  Now act.

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL’S REPUBLICAN RESPONSE

Allow me a few comments about Virginia’s new Governor Bob McDonnell, who will be giving the GOP response to the President’s SOTU address.

He ran a good campaign against a weak opponent last November here in the Commonwealth.  However, a few things need clarification.  First, his campaign jewel was the promise that he would fix the horrendous transportation gridlock here in northern Virginia.  Not three days after being sworn into office, McDonnell announced that he will not be tackling our transportation woes this year  Liar or realist?  Both.  He knew damn well during the campaign that our state was over $4 billion in the hole.  Of course there was no money available.  But he chose to lie to aid his victory at the polls and THEN he became a realist, after being inaugurated.  Yuk.

Secondly,his gubernatorial opponent, Creigh Deeds, accused McDonnell during the campaign of not supporting equal rights for women, as McDonnell had voted against equal pay for women.  Further, a master’s thesis written by McDonnell  when he was 34 years old in 1989, put forth his beliefs that working women and feminists were detrimental to family life.  McDonnell countered this brouhaha  by citing the careers of his wife and numerous daughters.  His paid political ads featured many female state employees who refuted his alleged sexism.  Fine and dandy; he fought off the charges well and successfully.  However, no one, not even one person in the media or state government, questioned McDonnell as to why, if he holds no prejudice against equal gender rights, why the hell he voted against equal pay for women.  To this day, no explanation for that vote has been offered.

So now let us listen to the hope for the GOP.  What?  Why did they choose him to deliver this speech?  He has only been in office for about three hours.  Oh right: he is a Republican who actually won an election.  Got it.  Here we go.

10:30 P.M.

McDonnell has one thing right: it is not easy to follow the President of the United States, especially this particular one who currently holds office.  Remember the debacle of Bobby Jindal last year?  Oy.

McDonnell is starting out with his favorite topic: job growth.  And of course, that can only happen if we have unfettered, unregulated growth.  Never mind that with the constant expectation of growth comes corruption and abuse.  It is one thing to harp on the GOP’s steadfast platform of growth, but McDonnell is conveniently ignoring the disaster that irresponsible growth can cause.

Yes, I agree with him on the topic on the necessity of tort reform as an important underpinning for successful and effective health reform.  This issue has not ignored for too long by the Democrats.

Uh-oh: here he goes, willing to sacrifice a clean America for an energy independent nation.  I do not fall for this.  The achievement of both goals can be attained.  It is not an “either or” situation.

10:38 P.M.

McDonnell is touching on all the issues, i.e. education, the war against terrorism, a strong military, etc.  Pretty simple task when you only have ten minutes to talk.  He is pushing all the right buttons, be it only for five seconds each.  In six minutes, we have met three of his five children.  Sorry, not interested.  Extraneous.

Overall, a decent, white bread kind of speech from a member of a white bread sort of party.  Admirable but very milquetoast.  A recitation of party platitudes, affecting no deep-seated changes in attitudes:

10:44 P.M.

Good night and a better tomorrow.

POSTSCRIPT:

For a more eloquent, sensitive live blog of President Obama’s SOTU address, please visit Andrew Sullivan:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/01/liveblogging-the-sotu.html



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2 Responses to “LIVE BLOG: State of the Union”

  1. Coogan Girls Says:

    Hey Bon,
    Just letting you know the Coogan ladies are watching with you!

    -Sarah and Molly

  2. yomamaforobama Says:

    Thanks, Coogie girls!!

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